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Mutat Res. 2001 Feb 20;473(2):229-47.

An aerobic recA-, umuC-dependent pathway of spontaneous base-pair substitution mutagenesis in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA 95192, USA.

Abstract

Antimutator alleles indentify genes whose normal products are involved in spontaneous mutagenesis pathways. Mutant alleles of the recA and umuC genes of Escherichia coli, whose wild-type alleles are components of the inducible SOS response, were shown to cause a decrease in the level of spontaneous mutagenesis. Using a series of chromosomal mutant trp alleles, which detect point mutations, as a reversion assay, it was shown that the reduction in mutagenesis is limited to base-pair substitutions. Within the limited number of sites than could be examined, transversions at AT sites were the favored substitutions. Frameshift mutagenesis was slightly enhanced by a mutant recA allele and unchanged by a mutant umuC allele. The wild-type recA and umuC genes are involved in the same mutagenic base-pair substitution pathway, designated "SOS-dependent spontaneous mutagenesis" (SDSM), since a recAumuC strain showed the same degree and specificity of antimutator activity as either single mutant strain. The SDSM pathway is active only in the presence of oxygen, since wild-type, recA, and umuC strains all show the same levels of reduced spontaneous mutagenesis anaerobically. The SDSM pathway can function in starving/stationary cells and may, or may not, be operative in actively dividing cultures. We suggest that, in wild-type cells, SDSM results from basal levels of SOS activity during DNA synthesis. Mutations may result from synthesis past cryptic DNA lesions (targeted mutagenesis) and/or from mispairings during synthesis with a normal DNA template (untargeted mutagenesis). Since it occurs in chromosomal genes of wild-type cells, SDSM may be biologically significant for isolates of natural enteric bacterial populations where extended starvation is often a common mode of existence.

PMID:
11166040
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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